How to Choose the Right Financial Advisor

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Last updated :
May 23, 2023

Table of Contents

How to Choose the Right Financial Advisor

Unraveling the Financial Advisor Mystery: A Handy Guide for the Young, Indian, and Clueless

I. Introduction

We get it. You're young, ambitious, and trying to navigate the financial jungle that is adulting in India. Worry not, friend. We're here to help you find your financial Sherpa, a.k.a., the right financial advisor, to guide you through this wilderness. So, grab your chai, buckle up, and let's embark on this wild adventure together.

Appetizer for your financial feast

  1. Embark on a life-changing financial journey: Empower yourself by choosing the ideal financial advisor for young Indian professionals.
  2. Unleash your potential: Embrace your financial dreams and goals, assess your money personality, and set inspiring yet achievable targets.
  3. Master the financial advisor landscape: Discover the world of various types of advisors, from Robo to niche, and unlock the key to your perfect match.
  4. Forge your path to financial success: Harness the power of your network and online resources to find the advisor who will elevate your financial game.
  5. Take control of your financial destiny: Evaluate potential advisors with confidence, focusing on credentials, experience, and communication style.
  6. Build a lasting partnership: Treat the selection process like dating, assess compatibility, and establish a thriving long-term relationship that will secure your financial future.
  7. Bonus: Demystify financial jargon and become a savvy investor with a handy glossary of essential terms.

II. Understanding Your Financial Needs

A. A light-hearted perspective on the financial aspirations of young Indians

Ever dreamt of buying that swanky sports car, owning a cozy little beach house in Goa, or being able to treat your parents to a luxurious world tour? Of course, you have! But don't worry, we won't judge. Just know that everyone has their own unique financial dreams, and that's okay.

B. Know thy financial self: assessing your money personality

Are you a spendthrift, a saver, or somewhere in between? Understanding your money personality is like knowing your Hogwarts house—it's essential for you to thrive in the financial realm. Take some time to reflect on your money habits and identify areas where you can improve.

C. Setting realistic financial goals (while still dreaming big)

While it's great to dream big, let's not forget to set some realistic short-term and long-term financial goals. Start with baby steps, like building an emergency fund, and gradually move on to larger goals, like saving for that dream vacation or retirement.

III. Know Your Advisor Types

A. The financial advisor zoo: a guide to the Species

Not all financial advisors are created equal. Some specialize in investments, while others focus on retirement planning or insurance. It's important to know what species of advisor you need, so you don't end up with a koala when you need a lion.

Choosing the Right Species of Financial Advisor: Navigating the Financial Jungle

When searching for the perfect financial advisor, it's essential to understand that they come in various "species," each with unique areas of specialization. Knowing what kind of advisor you need is crucial to ensuring that your financial goals are well-supported.

1. The Investment Cheetah

Investment cheetahs specialize in helping clients make informed decisions about their investment portfolios. They have expert knowledge of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other investment vehicles. If your primary financial goal is to grow your wealth through smart investing, an investment cheetah is an ideal choice.

2. The Retirement Planning Lion

Retirement planning lions focus on helping clients prepare for their golden years. They assist with setting retirement goals, determining the best saving strategies, and creating a well-balanced retirement portfolio. If you're concerned about securing a comfortable retirement, a retirement planning lion can help you get there.

3. The Insurance Giraffe

Insurance giraffes specialize in risk management and provide guidance on selecting the most appropriate insurance policies for you and your family. They help you navigate the complex world of life, health, and property insurance, ensuring that you're well-protected against unforeseen events. If safeguarding your financial future through insurance is your priority, consider partnering with an insurance giraffe.

4. The Comprehensive Financial Planning Rhino

A comprehensive financial planning rhino is a jack-of-all-trades. They have expertise in various financial domains such as investments, retirement planning, insurance, tax planning, and estate planning. If you're looking for holistic financial guidance, this species of rhino is your go-to advisor.

5. The Koala Advisor

While the term "koala" may seem dismissive, it's essential to recognize that different financial advisors cater to specific needs. A koala advisor might specialize in a niche area or serve clients with unique financial situations. They may excel in their domain but might not be the best fit if your needs fall outside their expertise.

In conclusion, it's crucial to understand the various "species" of financial advisors and choose the one that best aligns with your financial objectives. By doing so, you'll ensure that you're partnering with an advisor—be it a cheetah, lion, giraffe, rhino, or koala—who can effectively guide you on your financial journey. The key is to identify which type of advisor is best equipped to address your unique financial needs and goals.


B. The Robo-advisor vs. the Human-advisor: an epic battle

In the age of technology, even financial advice has gone digital. Robo-advisors use algorithms to manage your investments, while human advisors rely on their expertise and experience. Each has its pros and cons, so choose wisely.

Pros and Cons of Robo-Advisors vs. Human Advisors



  1. Lower fees: Robo-advisors typically charge lower fees compared to human advisors, making them more accessible for those with limited budgets.
  2. Accessibility: As digital platforms, robo-advisors are available 24/7, allowing clients to access their accounts and make adjustments at any time.
  3. Automated management: Robo-advisors use algorithms to automatically manage and rebalance portfolios, saving time and effort for clients.
  4. Consistency: Since they rely on algorithms, robo-advisors provide consistent, unbiased advice, eliminating the risk of human error or emotions influencing decisions.


  1. Limited personalization: Robo-advisors may not offer the same level of personalized advice as human advisors, which could be a drawback for clients with unique or complex financial situations.
  2. Less emotional support: Digital platforms lack the human touch, which means they cannot provide the emotional support or encouragement that some clients may need when making financial decisions.
  3. No holistic approach: Robo-advisors primarily focus on investments and may not offer comprehensive financial planning, including insurance, tax planning, or estate planning.

Human Advisors


  1. Personalized advice: Human advisors can provide tailored guidance based on a client's unique financial situation, goals, and preferences.
  2. Emotional support: A human advisor can offer empathy, encouragement, and reassurance during challenging financial times or when making critical decisions.
  3. Holistic approach: Human advisors are often capable of providing comprehensive financial planning, including investments, insurance, tax planning, and estate planning.
  4. Adaptable strategies: Human advisors can adjust their recommendations in response to changes in the market or a client's financial situation, offering more flexibility and adaptability than algorithms.


  1. Higher fees: Human advisors generally charge higher fees than robo-advisors, which could be a barrier for some clients.
  2. Availability: Unlike digital platforms, human advisors may not be accessible 24/7, which could limit their responsiveness to clients' needs or market changes.
  3. Potential bias: Human advisors may be influenced by their own emotions, experiences, or biases, which could impact the quality of their advice.

Examples of Robo-Advisors

Robo-AdvisorTarget AudienceKey FeaturesBettermentGeneral investorsAutomated portfolio management, rebalancing, tax-loss harvestingWealthfrontGeneral investorsAutomatic rebalancing, tax-loss harvesting, financial planning toolsAcornsYounger audienceInvest spare change, diversified portfolios, easy-to-use interfaceZerodha Coin (India)Indian investorsDirect mutual funds investment, multiple fund houses, easy management5Paisa (India)Indian investorsAutomated mutual fund recommendations, goal-based planning, tax-saving investments

In conclusion, both robo-advisors and human advisors have their advantages and disadvantages. Choosing between the two ultimately depends on your financial goals, preferences, and personal circumstances. The examples of robo-advisors provided above can serve as a starting point for your research.

C. Niche advisors: your financial fairy godmother

If you have unique financial circumstances (like being a cryptocurrency millionaire or a Bollywood star), a niche advisor may be just what you need. These specialized advisors have in-depth knowledge of specific financial areas and can cater to your unique needs.

IV. The Search for the Perfect Advisor

A. Where to find financial advisors (Hint: not on Tinder!)

Sadly, swiping right won't land you the perfect financial advisor. Instead, try asking for recommendations from friends, family, and coworkers, or search for reputable advisors online. Moneyfront, Arthos, and FinVizer are online platforms that connect clients with certified financial advisors in India. These platforms offer various services, including investment advice, financial planning, and portfolio management. By using these platforms, you can easily find and compare financial advisors, ensuring that you select the best professional to assist you in achieving your financial goals.

B. Tapping into your network: friends, family, and coworkers

Don't be shy—reach out to your network and ask for recommendations. Chances are, someone you know has had a positive experience with a financial advisor and can point you in the right direction.

C. Online resources: the Google guru for financial advisors

The internet is a treasure trove of information, so use it to your advantage. Search for financial advisors in your area, read reviews, and check out their websites to get a feel for their services.

A few online platforms where you can find Indian financial advisors to swipe right on are::

  1. LinkedIn: Professional networking platform to find financial advisors based on skills, experience, and recommendations.
  2. Fee-Only India: Features a list of fee-only financial planners, focusing on unbiased and client-centric advice.
  3. SEBI RIA List: Search for advisors registered with the Securities and Exchange Board of India by registration number, name, or location.
  4. Justdial: Local search engine to find financial advisors in your city, read user reviews, and contact them directly.

These platforms can help you find Indian financial advisors. Remember to verify their credentials, experience, and reviews.

V. Vetting Potential Advisors

A. Credentials: the alphabet soup

Your financial advisor should have a solid educational background and relevant certifications (like CFP, CFA, or CPA). Don't be afraid to ask for their qualifications—after all, you wouldn't let a random stranger perform surgery on you, would you?

Here's a brief overview of some key certifications and why they matter:

  1. CFP (Certified Financial Planner): CFP professionals have completed extensive coursework and passed a rigorous exam covering multiple aspects of financial planning. They must adhere to strict ethical standards and have experience in creating comprehensive financial plans. A CFP is a reliable choice for holistic financial guidance.
  2. CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst): CFA charterholders have passed a series of rigorous exams focusing on investment management, portfolio analysis, and financial markets. They possess in-depth knowledge of investments, making them well-equipped to handle your investment needs.
  3. CPA (Certified Public Accountant): CPAs are experts in accounting and tax planning. They've passed a stringent exam and have met strict experience requirements. If you need assistance with tax planning or financial accounting, a CPA can be a valuable asset.

Asking for your advisor's qualifications is essential—it ensures you're working with a knowledgeable and competent professional, just as you'd expect from a surgeon or any other expert in their field. There isn't a strict requirement for the number of certifications a financial advisor should have, as it largely depends on the specific services you need. However, having at least one of the mentioned certifications (CFP, CFA, or CPA) is a good indicator of the advisor's competence and expertise in their respective domain.

B. Experience: how many financial rodeos have they attended?

Experience matters, but it's not just about the number of years they've been in the business. Look for an advisor with experience in handling finances for clients similar to you in terms of age, income, and financial goals.

C. Checking for red flags: financial advisor horror stories

Conducting due diligence and investigating any potential red flags about a financial advisor is a crucial step in ensuring that you're partnering with a trustworthy professional. By taking the time to do some research, you can prevent potential financial mishaps and protect your assets. Here are some ways to carry out your "detective work":

  1. Verify credentials: Confirm that the advisor's certifications, like CFP, CFA, or CPA, are genuine and up to date. You can typically do this by checking the respective organization's website or reaching out to them directly.
  2. Check disciplinary records: Investigate if the advisor has any history of disciplinary actions, such as fines, suspensions, or other regulatory issues. In the US, you can use the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Broker Check website, while in India, you can check the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) website.
  3. Look for client complaints: Search for any client complaints or lawsuits filed against the advisor. This information can often be found on regulatory websites, such as those mentioned earlier, or by doing a general online search.
  4. Ask for references: Request references from the advisor's current or former clients to get an understanding of their experience, work style, and the quality of service provided.
  5. Evaluate communication style: Ensure that the advisor's communication style matches your preferences. You should feel comfortable asking questions and discussing your financial concerns with them.

By carefully examining a financial advisor's background, you can minimize the risk of partnering with someone who may have a history of poor performance, misconduct, or unsatisfied clients. This "detective work" can save you from potential financial distress and help you find a reliable advisor to guide you through your financial journey.

D. Communication style: are they a Chatty Cathy or a Silent Sam?

It's essential to find an advisor who communicates in a way that works for you. If you prefer regular check-ins and detailed explanations, look for a Chatty Cathy. But if you'd rather have a hands-off approach, a Silent Sam might be your perfect match.

VI. Making the Decision: The Financial Advisor Dating Game

A. The first date: the initial consultation

Treat your first meeting with a potential advisor like a first date. Ask questions, get to know them, and see if there's a connection. Remember, you're looking for a long-term financial partner, so make sure you feel comfortable and confident in your abilities.

B. Compatibility checklist:

Create a compatibility checklist that includes criteria such as experience, communication style, and fees. This will help you objectively evaluate potential advisors and choose the one that best suits your needs.

C. Popping the question: fees and other awkward conversations

Before committing to an advisor, make sure to discuss their fee structure. Some charge hourly rates, while others work on a commission basis. Be transparent about your expectations, and don't be afraid to negotiate if necessary.

D. The commitment: how to maintain a healthy financial advisor relationship

Congratulations! You've found your financial soulmate. Now it's time to maintain a healthy relationship. Stay in touch, provide updates on your financial situation, and don't hesitate to ask questions or seek clarification when needed.

VII. The bottom line

You made it! You're now equipped with the knowledge and confidence to find your perfect financial advisor. As you embark on your financial journey, remember that it's okay to ask for help and that the right advisor can make all the difference.

Bonus: A Financial Advisor Glossary (for those who still can't tell a SIP from an SWP)

To help you navigate the financial lingo jungle, here's a handy glossary of common terms you may encounter:

  1. SIP (Systematic Investment Plan): A way to invest in mutual funds by making regular, fixed payments over time.
  2. SWP (Systematic Withdrawal Plan): A method for withdrawing funds from an investment in a systematic, predetermined manner.
  3. CFP (Certified Financial Planner): A professional certification for financial planners, indicating expertise in financial planning, taxes, insurance, estate planning, and retirement.
  4. CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst): A professional designation for investment professionals, focusing on portfolio management, investment tools, and financial analysis.
  5. CPA (Certified Public Accountant): A professional certification for accountants, which includes expertise in financial planning, taxes, and auditing.

The Final Audit (Synopsis):

  1. Unlock your financial potential by embracing your unique dreams and goals.
  2. Develop self-awareness of your money personality to guide your financial decisions.
  3. Master the art of identifying the ideal advisor for your needs.
  4. Maximize your network and online resources to find your financial partner.
  5. Evaluate candidates with confidence and conviction.
  6. Cultivate a healthy, long-term relationship with your chosen advisor for a prosperous financial future.
  7. Empower yourself with financial knowledge by referring to the glossary of essential terms.

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